Bagpipers and Drummers Compete for Ohio Valley Honors

Bagpipers and Drummers Compete at the College of Wooster for Ohio Valley Honors
By Barry Conway

The Eastern United States Pipe Band Association Ohio Valley Indoor Competition was held on March 25, 2023 in the Scheide Center for Music and Arts at the College of Wooster. While this is the second indoor competition since the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the first that saw the event return to pre-pandemic attendance, with forty-seven soloists from ten states and one Canadian province compete in different disciples on the highland bagpipe and snare drum. In the afternoon, eight pipe bands competed in three separate grades for honors. 

The winner of the Grade 3 and Grade 5 events was Carnegie University Pipe Band. The band and school are named after American industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who immigrated from Dunfirmline, Scotland to Pittsburgh in 1848.  

“This was our first competition of the year” said Andrew Carlisle, Director of Piping at Carnegie Mellon University. “It was good for us to play in front of judges before outdoor competition season begins”, said Carlisle. Carlisle, who is originally from Ballygowan, Northern Ireland, has been Director of Piping at the school since 2010.

Winner of the Grade 4 event was 87th Cleveland Pipe Band, from Cleveland, OH. “It’s great to put the pandemic behind us and we can get back to competing and improving the play of local pipers” said Michel Crawley, whose father, John Crawley, started the band in 1987. 

87th Cleveland PB is a teaching program, as Crawley is one of the top teachers in the Cleveland area. 87th Cleveland pipers and drummers Joe Kern, Quinn Castilla, Quinn Faith, Riley Valley and Rory Taylor all won top honors in their respective disciplines and grades. 

The Open Piper of the Day was Alastair Murray of Pittsburgh, PA., who is originally from Northern Ireland. Alastair is also owner of Mur-Reed, a maker of reeds for the highland bagpipe. 

The Grade 1 Piper of the Day was Mic Trenor from Columbus. OH., and the Grade 2 Piper of the Day was Alan Curran from Toledo, OH., who are both members of the Great Lakes Pipe Band, Cleveland. 

The event also featured a smallpipe workshop run by Timothy Cummings. Cummings is a Vermont based instrumentalist who is also a graduate of the College of Wooster and it’s bagpipe program.  

“It was great having Tim back to the school to share some of what his been doing since graduating,” said Palmer Shonk, Director of the College of Wooster bagpipe program. Cummings shared music from Ireland, Scotland, Cape Breton as well as Appalachia during his workshop. “There were eighteen signed up for my workshop. It was a large and enthusiastic group which made for a great day”, said Cummings.

Our region is blessed with educational institutions that support the highland arts with bagpipe and drumming programs at College of Wooster, Carnegie Mellon, PennWest Edinboro-Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and Alma College.  

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